New police chief urged to push on with reforms

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Cyprus’ new police Chief Stelios Papatheodorou, and his deputy, Christos Mavris, were officially sworn-in on Tuesday with a mandate to make the force “a modern, flexible and efficient organisation”.

Addressing the police’s two most senior officials, President Nicos Anastasiades said: “You are called upon to show full commitment to the constitution and to comply with it.”

The President noted that their main tasks were to restore the sense of safety among citizens, enhancing the police’s credibility while also improving the people’s trust.

Anastasiades said their appointment was within the context of a broader reform of the police “which is underway and includes a modern model of policing and operational framework, following major recent changes to the police force”.

Other changes include adapting transparent promotion criteria and salary upgrades based on performance, education, and training.

President Anastasiades referred to a separate financial crime division allocated to deal with organised crime while other departments have been set up to deal with terrorist threats, as well as a division to deal with reports of child abuse.

He also referred to tools added to the force’s arsenal, such as the ability to monitor telephone conversations in cases involving serious crimes.

“As a result, 2019 saw a decrease in the number of serious offences, it also recorded an increase in the number of solved cases,” said Anastasiades.

Anastasiades said challenges ahead involved immigration, organised crime and cybercrime.

He thanked outgoing chief Kypros Michaelides and his sacked predecessor Zacharias Chrysostomou for their contribution, as the majority of reforms took place during their tenure.

“Undoubtedly, there have been and still are weaknesses… that have led me to painful decisions. At the same time, I do not ignore anyone’s positive contribution”.

It is believed that the President was referring to the sacking last year of then-police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou in the wake of the serial-killer debacle, which followed the resignation of Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.

Chrysostomou had taken the heat for police mishandling of the cases of 5 women and two children who were reported missing to be found slain at the hands of serial killer Nicos Metaxas.

The serial killer’s first victims were found dead more than three years after being reported missing with more than a dozen officers facing charges of dereliction of duty for failing to investigate.

Addressing the retiring Michaelides, Anastasiades highlighted his 40 years of service to the force, “an achievement he should be proud of”.

New Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou, 49, said: “We will work with a deep sense of responsibility to fulfil our mission with the ultimate goal of maintaining public order and security.”

He added that the changes in modern crime are evident, which involve immigration-related issues, organized crime, corruption, cybercrime.

“There is a need for immediate action…Cyprus today is one of the safest countries in the world and as such we must maintain it”.